Posted by News Express | 17 November 2019 | 721 times
Leaders from the Northern part of the country and their counterparts from the Southern region have described as a sad development in the Senate the proposed Hate Speech Prohibition Bill, which seeks to criminalise the offence with death as a penalty.
Specifically, they condemned the attempt by the Red Chamber to make hate speech a capital offence urging the National Assembly to tread carefully on the issue.
The Northern and Southern leaders were however united against hate speech machants, saying it was not possible for any organization to exist and be useful to society without any regulation that governs it operations.
Condemning hate speech and those trading on it, the socio-cultural groups warned that proposing death by hanging as punishment for hate speech was not the best option.
Sen Sabi Abdullahi (Niger North) had last week, sponsored a bill which, if passed into law, will see people die by hanging for hate speech.
But speaking to LEADERSHIP Sunday, the Northern Socio-cultural group, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) Secretary General, Mr Anthony N Z Sani, said death by hanging should not be part of punishment for hate speech.
Sani said however that all organisations and professional bodies, be it journalism, engineering, Medicine, pharmacy or law, need some form of regulation.
He stated: “Social media is a new brand of journalism which allows practitioners to talk to themselves and to power in the hope of engendering progress from interactions. But the way the media is being abused with fake news and foul language, social media runs the risk of losing credibility and readership.
“That is why I do not oppose some form of regulation of the social media for the purpose of promotion of order, justice, liberty and common decency with a provision that the regulation would not amount to gagging”.
Also, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo cautioned that hate speech destroys a nation, adding that even though it is reprehensible, capital punishment for it amounts to killing a fly with a slegde hamme.
Assistant national publicity secretary of the socio-cultural group, Comrade Chuks Ibegbu, said “I think long term imprisonment should be better. Yes, hate speech can lead to war and violence but death sentence is not the best.
“Yes, people are misusing the social media and there has to be a kind of gate keeping to check jungle posts but not with the intention to muzzle the media”.
On its part, the Pan Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, said the proposed Hate Speech Prohibition Bill, which seeks to criminalise the offence with death as a penalty was a sad development in the Senate.
In its reaction by its spokesman, Mr Yinka Odumakin, Afenifere described those who are championing the Bill as “bloody hypocrites.”
While condemning the attempts by the Senate to make hate speech a capital offence, the group urged the National Assembly to tread carefully on the issue.
According to Afenifere, those who majored in Hate Speech between 2014 and 2015 are now the ones proposing death sentence to what they called Hate Speech .
Odumakin said, “As it stands now, the first question to ask is: what is hate speech? Who determine hate speech? Fair Speech will become Hate Speech in the ears of those who are deceiving people. In the ears of these people, even sweet speech could become hate speech as well.
“Proposing death by hanging in what they called nebulous Hate Speech is a sad development in our Senate. Those who majored in Hate Speech between 2014 and 2015 then are now the one who are proposing death sentence to what they called hate speech now.
“Go and open our newspapers between 2014 and 2015, most of those who are talking about hate speech today would have been hung if there were such law in that time.
“They abused the then President by insulting him and his wife. They threatened fire and everything then in their campaigns. Now that they are in power, they now know that there is something called hate speech.
“They were just bloody hypocrites. And I don’t mind if they tag that hypocrite hate speech, but they are all hypocrites. They are only trying to shut the space of free expression in Nigeria.
“They are trying to turn the open society to a close society because they believe that they have to cow Nigerians so that they would be afraid to talk. Today in Nigeria, those who protest, they shoot live bullets at them. To talk again, they are also threatening them with hanging.
“We put our lives on the pipeline to fight military regime then and most of what we fought them on are now happening in Nigeria today. But Nigerians must not give up. They must not surrender their country to these dictators.
“We should push on and not allow ourselves to be cowed, knowing for sure that nothing good or bad lasts forever. This time shall come to pass and become history.
“Some of us warned early when they wanted to choose the leadership of the National Assembly that the moment the executive have their way they are going to have a rubber stamp Senate. And today now we have a rubber stamp National Assembly. I don’t think these people represent Nigerians anymore.”
He, however, urged the Senate to pause and look at themselves, look at the history of legislation in Nigeria and think whether they are not departing from the traditional role of legislature in democracy.”
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